Our group was definitely of two minds about this book.  Some liked or even loved it, while the non-Jane Austen fans had big issues with it.  And the Jane-ites were in the minority.  The biggest complaints had to do with too many characters, a slow-moving plot, and redundancies.

This was essentially a love letter to Jane Austen by P.D. James.  Whole passages of “Pride and Prejudice” were repeated and then she brought in references to “Persuasion” and “Emma”.  Various plot points and resolutions involved characters from those works, though we didn’t actually see them.

We all wondered about why was Lydia never asked about what occurred in the carriage?  Surely she would have heard about Wickham’s plan and Denny’s objection to it.  She might not be able to testify against her husband, but wouldn’t the knowledge of Wickham’s misdeeds have had an impact on Lydia?

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s reticence about what was going on is also so terribly obvious, yet no one collars him to shake it out of him.

Some missed Austen’s parlor room chit chat and there was a distinct lack of female clothing – nobody’s hem got messed up or anything.  And because it involved a murder, there was a lightness missing.

We talked a little about the era and what was going on at the time and there was a discussion about the distinctions in social strata, both of which were a part of this book.

But the story was interesting, the problem well-presented, if a little contrived. There was a complaint about a boring middle.

Favorite characters were Denny, because he had the good sense to die early, Wickham, Lydia, for her glorious dramatics, Elizabeth, Darcy, and Sir Hugh. 

Least favorite characters were Lydia, Elizabeth, Wickham, and the rest of the crowd.

2 stars